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You Are Invited to Condor Comeback 2011

The Public is Invited to Attend Condor Comeback 2011 at Pinnacles National Monument on Fee-Free National Public Lands Day

The public is invited to attend Condor Comeback 2011 on Saturday, September 24 at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. Up to two young California condors will be released for their first flight into the wild during the release celebration from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM.

No entrance fee will be charged. Superintendent Karen Beppler-Dorn has scheduled the event to coincide with National Public Lands Day, a day when these fees are waived at all National Park sites.

"This celebration of one of North America's most endangered birds will be a great opportunity to pause and reflect on our relationship to the natural world," said Beppler-Dorn. "There is a lot of restoration work yet to be done, but a great deal has already been learned from bringing the California condor back to the wild."

The event will be held at the Pinnacles Visitor Center near the campground on the east side of the park, accessed from Highway 25 south of Hollister. Car pooling is encouraged since parking is limited and will be on a first come, first served basis.

The Condor Comeback event will feature two large flat panel video display screens that will carry a live, remote video feed from the backcountry condor facility to the visitor center. The public can watch the young condors in the facility pen and the first flight of any released birds. There will be speakers, informational and educational booths staffed by rangers and park partners, an activity booth for children, and a volunteer micro-trash pickup.

The one-year old juvenile condors -- two females and two males -- have been acclimating to their new home in a 20 by 40 foot flight pen at Pinnacles since their arrival in July. At the Comeback event up to two birds may be "soft released" - a technique that allows the juveniles to escape the pen without seeing people. Indeed, the young birds will see other wild condors outside of the pen and can follow and learn from the more experienced birds.

There is a chance that no birds will leave the flight pen on the day of the event, due to the circumstances of a "soft release". There is always a good chance to see wild free flying condors within the park, where 28 have been successfully released in the past. Spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing, and comfortable hiking shoes are recommended for viewing wild condors.

The juveniles to be released come from the successful captive breeding programs at the Peregrine Fund's World Center of Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and the Los Angeles Zoo. Other organizations involved in the captive breeding program include the San Diego Wild Zoo Safari Park and the Oregon Zoo.

Program History

Pinnacles first release of juvenile condors began in 2003. This is the eighth release of the endangered birds at Pinnacles. Ultimately, project biologists aim to build a sustainable population of condors breeding in the wild at Pinnacles. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society, and Pinnacles Partnership in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Program.

Listed as an endangered species in 1973, the California condor population has rebounded from a low of 22 birds in the mid-1980s through intensive captive breeding efforts and rigorous educational programs explaining human-caused threats to condor survival. A key partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, conducts outreach to discuss the connection between lead ammunition fragments and scavenger mortalities, including condors and eagles.

As of July 1, 2011, the total world population of California condors was 201 in captivity and 198 in the wild, for a species total of 399.

Further details of the release event are available on the Pinnacles National Monument website or by calling Pinnacles National Monument at 831-389-4486 ext. 267.


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